After sustaining a hairline fracture to her femur, Jennifer Weterings was admitted to St. Paul’s Hospital. Within 24 hours she had developed progressive multi-organ failure, due to severe sepsis, secondary to MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). Her recovery took five months in hospital – from ICU to GF Strong – and is still continuing today.
On Friday, May 17th, 2013, Jen shared her story of recovery with medical and research staff at Vancouver General Hospital’s Lunch N’ Learn session, sponsored by Webster & Associates.
Here is Jen’s story:
Prior to my injury I directed my energy to four main areas of my life; my professional life, my community involvement, athletics, and my family. I was a manager with Vancouver Coastal Health, responsible for Aboriginal Health. My previous background had been in investment banking. I served as the Commodore for the Locarno Sailing Club, and a board member for Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres). And I was an ‘extreme rower’ having just completed a trans-Atlantic row over 4,000 km as part of a team. The most important part of my life though, was my social network which included my 2 year old nephew and 4 year old niece, a large and close extended family and many dear friends.
My life changed forever after the injury/illness. I believe that my recovery is the result of the cumulative contribution of modern medicine, of teamwork, and of the power of the individual to heal. My recovery involved many people, whose expertise and personal qualities helped me to work as hard as I could to recover.
My experience and perspective as a patient, as a person, and as a healthcare professional, helped define my recovery experience. Three key factors that made a difference to my recovery were working with care providers that were inspiring, informative and inclusive.
Inspiring: The medical staff inspired me to participate in my own recovery. I’m very thankful, for example, for the Occupational Therapist who told me that I should do everything ‘with purpose.’
Informative: Most of my medical support team gave me useful and timely information – information that I could adjust to my own understanding and skill level.
Inclusive: The medical care professionals worked openly together, not in isolation. Open dialogue ensured that crucial information was retained and brainstorming around steps in care could occur. The medical staff also made an effort to inform and include my family and friends in all stages of my recovery. This, in turn, enabled my loved ones to support my recovery in many ways, particularly with my mental health.
This immediate, thoughtful, skilled attention to my recovery saved my life and quality of my life.